Looking After Your Colorful Koi – The Basics of Koi Care

Koi are a robust fish and Koi care is not difficult if one takes time to learn the basics. As with most activities there is no substitute for experience but if one pays the right amount of attention to what Koi must have your experience can be a very rewarding one. Koi have become very popular pets to keep, and there is nothing quite like a well-kept active Koi garden pond.

Koi Care - What is Most Important

The most important factor in keeping Koi has to do with the water they swim in. Koi need clean water. If your pond or tank water becomes polluted Koi can become inactive, lifeless and are subject to a range of diseases. Koi care under these conditions becomes difficult and very frustrating and your Koi will not thank you. When we talk of pollution we are talking about both what can be seen but also what cannot be seen.

Healthy Koi are an extremely active fish. They can grow to much larger sizes than say fish like Goldfish. Their size and activity mean that Koi are constantly polluting the water they swim in. In nature this is not usually a problem. Not only are there larger volumes of water but nature has its own methods of water purification. This is not true for a Koi pond.

Koi Care - Pumps and Filters

Unless you are blessed with natural running water most Koi are kept in a closed system, that is the water is constantly being circulated through a system of pumps and filters. This is vastly different from nature. While a successfully designed Koi pond or tank will seek to replicate the processes found in nature, pumps and filters will always form the basis of water purification. The sizes of your pumps and filters will depend on the size of the pond, ie volume of water and the number of Koi that are being kept. To the extent you have been able to introduce plant life into your pond to replicate natural process this will have a large bearing on how easy it may be to care for your Koi.

Aquatic plants will take up from the water much of the Koi produced pollutants like nitrates and ammonia. That being the case your first requirement in Koi care will be to your pumps and filters, these will require constant attention. But care and cultivation of good aquatic plant life must not be overlooked. Regular chemical tests for pollutants form the basis of monitoring the quality of your water. Most filters will include special ultra violet light which will greatly assist in killing bacteria which can be a problem in a Koi pond but this will be of little consequence if your system both mechanical and plant cannot cope with Koi produced pollution.

Koi Care - Good Nutrition

Healthy Koi are voracious eaters. They are also omnivorous which means they will eat almost anything. From this point of view you cannot over feed Koi. However it is good to remember that the more you feed Koi the more pollutants like ammonia they eliminate from their bodies. It is often tempting to increase food levels at feed time but this can have a serious impact on your water quality. Uneaten food is also just as big a problem.

Like any animal Koi need a diet that will provide all the basics of their nutrition. While you can purchase pellets designed for Koi, your Koi care needs to recognise that Koi will eat a wide variety of foods both meat and vegetables. Treats like peas, watermelon, lettuce, and worms will enlarge their range of foods. Koi can be trained to eat from your hand. They will soon learn to recognise their feeders. They can become quite social and interact with their feeders. Also remember that Koi do not feed in winter going into almost a state of hibernation.

Koi Care - Look for Problems

Feed time can be an opportunity to inspect your Koi up close. If they are not feeding or lifeless they can be suffering from ailment or diseases which may demand your urgent attention. The recognition and diagnosis of the various diseases will only come with experience and if some ailment is suspected you should seek professional help. Diagnosis of disease is the work of a specialist.

Do not attempt to treat a Koi in the main pond with all the other Koi. Have a separate tank in which to quarantine such fish. If drugs are required adding these to a much smaller volume of water will be much cheaper since the drugs can be quite expensive.

Koi Care - Many Other External Threats

Koi are cold-blooded animals. Ensure that the water does not get too hot in summer, (provide shade if necessary) or too cold in winter. Be aware of natural predators such as birds, cats, dogs and many wild animals that would love to go fishing in your Koi pond. Study the various things that can be done to protect your Koi from these external dangers.

Last but not least make sure that garden chemicals and storm-water do not find a way into your pond. Never forget the quality of your water is your first priority in Koi care. One storm that carries some garden fertilizer or weed spray into your pond could wipe out all your Koi in one single event.

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